The duality of a forum

Thats some of the struggles about balancing a game. What some people find fun, others find absolute pain. It gets even harder when you add PVE vs PVP.

When killing bosses is your entire appeal, making it a bit harder than standing afk while thralls manage to solo content(cough not biased) might be a good idea, but then it becomes unreliable for PVP’ers, or people that simply don’t give a damn about engaging in combat with bosses. Having 110 thralls around your base sounds overkill, but talk about it with people that have massive buildings, and its a must.

I think the word sandbox is at blame here. When you have a sandbox game, everyone does whathever they want, and have different means to achieve their own goals. Making each and every one of them viable and engaging is a great challenge.

In what ways your playstyle differs from another fellow user, and did any of the game updates affect it?

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I just got into CE with my brother/roommate in the last couple of weeks, so I can’t speak to the updates much. His playstyle is in-your-face melee and mine is usually to be the ranged fighter. We propped up a private PvE server on Xbox and started exploring. We’re having fun building up ridiculous housing and exploring the world, but our success in combat is vastly different. He can jump in with medium armor, axe, and shield and kill whole camps of NPCs. The bow is much less effective, so I often have to switch to my much weaker melee back-ups or just flee and avoid certain enemies. Considering these systems also have to work for PvP (and having read a good bit of the forum arguments around them) I get why bows have become somewhat significantly weaker than melee to try to prevent long-distance ganking from becoming the norm, but it’s pretty frustrating as a new PvE player who enjoys ranged combat.
Also, I loved the idea of the pet system, but got discouraged when multiple bear pets either stood by and did nothing or Leroy Jenkins’d their way into a camp of NPCs while I helplessly tried to fight enough to save them and failed (RIP Bear, Bear, Bear, and Bear).

That was a pretty wordy response to your question, but yeah I’m definitely seeing the duality of things as people have widely different opinions on how things should work. “The bow is not a dps weapon” was an interesting take. Whereas something like “it was becoming too easy for people to kill others from a distance and snipe unintelligent NPCs” made a bit more sense.
And understanding why things end up a certain way during balancing attempts does not make them any less frustrating for those that feel their playstyle got the shaft. We just need to try to be respectful in our discourse about it on the forums.

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Mechwarrior Living Legends is a Crysis Wars overhaul mod. It does exactly what it sounds like, it turns that crysis game into a MechWarrior game. But it does more, it makes it a BattleTech combined arms game. What does this have to do with this thread?

Well they had Aero assets. Meaning you can fly in a VTOL or an Aerospace Fighter. It added three dimensions to a two dimensional genre of combat.

Suffice to say there was some duality among the community there as well. When trying to balance both Air versus Ground and Ground versus Air, people would get salty one way or another. One of the main developers of the mod came out and said this quote:

“If one side complains and the other doesn’t. Its probably not balanced. If both sides are complaining, its probably balanced.”

That’s stuck with me for several years and I believe it to be true. Ever since about 2000-2005 I’ve notice a shift in gamers to want to play a victim card. To always try to out do each other in how bad they have it in a game. Trying to one up one another to get the pity and attention of the developer of their favorite game.

Its the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. And after fifteen years, I still don’t quite get it. You see it in these forums every day. People yammer on about how bad the game runs and they’ve doing that for three years. And with every balance change like with weapons. Everyone has their favorite weapon type and when it gets adjusted they immediately go into this mode where they try to point out every situation where the weapon is trash and shouldn’t be adjusted because of that fact.

Now with all that said. The two people you quoted are both in the right. It was pretty much the whole community that wanted boss health dropped. They weren’t hard because of their health. They were tedious and boring. Well… now they’re still boring, but not tedious, so that’s a boon. But the thrall health had to be dropped to compensate. Some people didn’t like this and they made bogus claims about how it hurts PVP because now they’re trash during offline raiding. But this again was a very small minority. I’m not going to start a thrall hp argument here (so anyone reading, if you want to debate this, make another thread).

The damaging one’s own thralls is a bug. Thralls are not supposed to be damaged with “Players can damage owned structures” not ticked. But they can. And by proxy that means during non-raid times on PVE-C they can be damaged by friendly fire.

However thralls are still tied to building damage scale. So if you set building damage to half, thralls take half damage from NPCs.

So obviously this behavior is a bug. Either they need to be decoupled from building damage or fully tied to it.

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Taemien I like that, and it’s a good reminder that a lot of people think they know better than the people who’s whole job every day is making games. It’s good to be reminded now and then that game devs are probably thinking on a whole different level than the know-it-all commenters on forums and socials. Just because they don’t make the game the way you want it doesn’t mean they’re idiots who can’t make games.

The thing with bows is… in real life there’s a reason massed archers were a thing, and then evolved into firearms, and swords and knights went extinct on the battlefield. Missile weapons have a huge advantage. Lots of people want to be up-close barbarians in a game like this, and realistically powered bows make that playstyle not optimal.

And that’s the real problem right? With the whiny gamers. People want THEIR chosen playstyle to be the optimal one. They want to win dammit. Or if they’re a bit more mature, at least balanced against other styles. But you can’t have balance and variety. I’m sorry, it can’t be done. Variety will always create a meta. One strategy the devs of games can adopt is to constantly change up the effectiveness of the various things, so one update swords will be slightly op, then it’ll be axes or maces or whatever. This means everyone gets a turn of their favourite playstyle being king. And the devs just have to ignore everyone else’s whining until it changes again. I suspect that’s what the devs of this game do. But there are a lot of people out there who think this is poor design, and that various weapons and things can and should all be magically balanced :man_shrugging:

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Oh man I’ve seen this done before. And while its fun, and it changes up the game from time to time. The devs doing it have to be prepared for the volumes and volumes of salt it creates. People will never stop whining and moaning when you do this. But you know what? They won’t quit either. They DO have fun despite the whining.

Like I said in another active thread, people exaggerate. ALOT. And you have to realize that if the whining ever did stop. Well the game died lol. Because lets be honest when you screw up and I mean REALLY screw up as a developer, people won’t tell you. They just leave. Unless they’ve got some serious money into it, then they might threaten to kill your dog or something, then leave. :smile:

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This is extremely accurate in my experience. People trying to talk to game devs do so because they’re invested in the game and hope to see changes. When they’re not interested, their energy is focused elsewhere.

Nailed it.

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It is often the case that people complain if their chosen playstyle isn’t the winning one. Personally, I just want to it to be viable, not king of playstyles. As it is, it is far more difficult to be effective in PvE with a bow. I don’t want to take down bosses single-handedly without taking a hit. I understand in PvP there’s a need for the bow to not be the end-all be-all and that there’s no distinction between PvP/PvE for weapons. Balancing a game is ridiculously hard, but attitudes like “it’s never going to be perfect so why bother and why provide feedback” (“I’m sorry, it can’t be done.”) are detrimental. You can strive for a solid balance without everything being “magically” perfect. I agree that people come here to provide feedback when they like a game and want to see it better, otherwise they’d bail. And that’s all I try to do, respectfully.

I see a lot of threads where people are far less respectful, trotting that line, calling thing “trash” or just using extreme language like “this is terrible, what were the devs thinking.” From my perspective it continues to show the duality that is the topic of this forum when someone answers the OP’s question with an example and everyone follows up with “yeah lots of whiny gamers out there” while focusing a bit too much on that person’s examples. No one else answered that question from the OP. You immediate call out someone as “whiny” if they give feedback. Some certainly are. They’ll be here more often than others, noting every single change to thralls or pets or spears that doesn’t agree with them and how bad it is. But not all feedback is whining.

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That’s really funny. I’m old enough to remember when that wasn’t treated as a universally accepted truth. But hey, screw all those people who did the hard work of making those games and screw all those other people who literally wrote books about game design. We’ve all decided that it’s too hard, therefore it’s not worth doing :stuck_out_tongue:

As someone who has worked in the game dev industry, I suspect this is as far from the truth as it can be. I suspect that the devs are up the fecal creek without a paddle and struggling to do a good job, because of a combination of factors that include crappy management from the business side of things and ever-increasing technical debt.

Only if you insist that balancing the game is magic, instead of lots and lots of hard work.

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There’s always a meta. No matter how simple or complex a system is, there will always be a better way of playing through it. The difference is how a developer approaches it.

On the very surface there is nothing detrimental about players gravitating towards a meta. It means the players are engaged and finding out how the system works. They are figuring things out by trial and error. That my friends is playing a game. Plain and simple.

When it starts getting to be a problem is when players aren’t playing the game. Are reading a website and just following the crowd without any experimentation on their own. The game needs to award players for experimentation and exploration. If it doesn’t, then they’re going to read a guide online and follow it to the letter. Obviously some players are never going to take inititative. You simply accept that is how they play and there’s not much you can do with them.

Developers can also shoot themselves in the foot by combating the meta instead of embracing it. You see this alot when something gets popular in a game and they nerf it. What should happen is examination on WHY players use the meta. If its because its fun. DON’T nerf it. That is literally the worst thing a dev can do is taking away something that is fun.

If something is simply OP. Then it can be a candidate for a nerf, but not before analyzing everything else. While not as bad as nerfing fun, nerfing the only effective means of progression and making it a sludge is not good either. Make sure before you nerf something that everything else isn’t simply lacking. Or if they’re not lacking, if they are fun to play.

And then like stated before, a developer can put their big boy pants on, and embrace the meta. Learn how it works within their own system, and alter the meta from time to time to keep the playerbase on its toes. Don’t do it too fast. Some systems take more time than others to figure out. But many players get enjoyment (even if they get salty about change) out of figuring out systems. Its engaging and stimulating to them.

Done properly the best system and meta will be only a small percentage better than the others. And players will start gravitating towards trying stuff rather than reading guides which will be obsolete in a month or two. Because of the changing meta, guides will become out of date and players will lose trust in them in favor of learning the system.

Again, not all players will do this. Some just can’t be bothered, and there’s not much you can do with them. Sometimes its just how they want to play. They want to play the game and have fun, and not work and test with it. Which is why you do allow a period of time for the meta to rise, sit at the top for a bit, and allow some guides to point people to it before changing it up.

But regardless, if you decide to change up the meta, prepare for the inevitable salt. Even the players who have fun with meta changes will complain. Change takes people out of their comfort zones and they will complain about it. Even if they like it. The only players who won’t complain are the ones who understand on a philosophical level what is actually going on. Even me explaining it in this post isn’t enough for most players to understand the reasons why this is healthy and not detrimental. They need to figure it out for themselves on an intuitive level.

But even with the complaints, very few will leave over it. Much more will stay to play a refresh of their favorite game than otherwise would have left if it stagnated.

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“Meta” is one of those funny little words that are vague and overloaded and everyone has a different idea of what it means, so it’s too easy to toss it around and then shift the goalposts.

If by “meta” you mean a single strictly dominant strategy, then your statement is factually false. If you mean something else, I’m afraid the rest of your post doesn’t give me enough information to understand it.

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Metas are usually an issue not because they make people play more X, but because it creates a feeling that S,T,U,V,W and Z are completely worthless.

Even if all of them are viable and X does a little better, people will always aim for the most efficient way of doing things, its in our nature. And the further it becomes the line between the ‘‘worst’’ contender and the meta item/skill/strat, the more players will feel punished for not using it.

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We have to be careful of perceived meta too, I didn’t really mention this one. That’s something developers can fall into a trap on. For example back about a year and a half ago. Spears were the meta. ‘Everyone’ used them. A few guides went out, a few youtube videos showcased them in PVP. And everyone swapped to them.

At the time I was using Axe and Shield (I think that’s meta currently, but I’m not sure, haven’t been in heavy PVP in the last few months) and playing around with Sword and Shield for kicks and giggles.

I was destroying spear users. Some of the better PVPers on two servers didn’t have much of a chance against it. The only time I lost to spear users is when there were three of them. And they barely beat me. I’m not tooting my own horn here. I was far from being God’s gift to Conan Exiles. I didn’t think I was that good. Someone I played with at the time was much better at it.

And I do think these spear users probably would have had a better chance against me with different weapons than spears if they had only practiced with them. I mean they were good, their movements were great, but they had focused on a weapon they thought was great.

Then the spear was nerfed, or changed I should say. I don’t know if it needed it. The sample size of people fighting with spears against non-spears was too low to make a guess. And even I have to admit I might have been biased against spears. Not wanting to see it nerfed. But not getting enough time with it to really give it a fair shake. But I had used spears in EA, and felt they were boring so I went with other stuff and got good with it.

I’m reminded of a weapon system in Planetside 2. This was interesting. So this rockets you could fire from a faction’s exoskeleton armor would home in on your cross hair and you could fire 5 of them before reloading. Ravens they were called.

When they were first released. People thought they were bad. They didn’t use them because their damage was too low and their flight time was too slow. I tried them and noticed they had a reload speed of something crazy fast. And trying them out, what they lacked in burst, they made up in DPS. Sustained damage.

Couple that with the fact you could control them out to render range made them extremely good at hitting long range targets. I used them to decimate entire columns of tanks. And pretty much only a half a dozen of us used them for about 6 months

6 months they went unchanged until someone put a youtube video of them or something and then everyone switched to them. It was chaos. For 6 months this OP weapon went unused. They nerfed them, reduced the range from indefinite to 300m, and I think their damage type was changed or something. You couldn’t one clip a tank anymore with them. But they still had pretty decent damage. Overall it was brought in line.

But I’m always fascinated by things like this happening. From what I understand Axe and Shield hasn’t changed much since its combo (with shield) was added. But I’m hearing reports in random threads how they might be over performing.

Metas are tricky. Sometimes they can show an issue. Sometimes they can show actually how little the playerbase actually knows about the game they play. And its tough for devs because lets be honest. Just because you make a game, doesn’t mean you’re the best at it. So predicting what players will use is difficult.

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So some people seem to take issue with my suggestion that variety precludes balance in game design. I want to expand and defend it a bit.

@CristKrieger, I certainly don’t think that accepting near-perfect balance is impossible means we should all give up trying to balance games. That’s like saying that because it’s not possible to prevent 100% of crimes, we just shouldn’t have laws. I don’t think it’s detrimental at all to say that variety precludes balance, if it’s true. As the truth is never detrimental when we’re trying to improve. It just gives us a realistic starting point to balance as best we can. It’s not all or nothing.

Perhaps I should have said “near-perfect balance” instead of balance. A game like Street Fighter is pretty well balanced for example, as it takes place in 2 dimensions in an enclosed space. CE is, as the OP said, a sandbox. The movement is 3D not side scrolling, there is a huge variety of weapons and equipment, there are thralls, pets and NPCs, the environment is open and varied, and characters are different power levels. None of that even includes the REAL reason combat balance in something like CE is impossible: human creativity. If there is even the slightest difference in function between two tools, some smart person is going to figure how to apply one of them so it’s more effective than the other in a given situation. It’s what humans do, we work smart not hard. It’s why we have this huge civilization and tech etc. Devs can try to make the weapons as balanced as possible, but all I’m saying is that it won’t be very balanced at all compared to something like Street Fighter because of the sheer number of variables that affect combat. It’s not as simple as dragon punch beats flying kick. If there’s even the tiniest edge, someone will find it and use it, and that edge is the difference between a good player and a great one. It’s one of the things I love about this game actually. It’s almost more like real life than a game.

CodeMage… I found your reply a bit condescending tbh, but that aside, here’s my response:

I’ve never seen the idea that variety precludes balance presented as a universally accepted truth – quite the opposite. In any case, I’m presenting it as my opinion. Of course I might be wrong but I don’t think I am and I stand by it. None of that other stuff you wrote follows from what I said at all. See above: admitting that near perfect balance is impossible does NOT mean we shouldn’t try to get as close as we can get. And anyone who wrote a book about game design who thinks any game more complex than noughts and crosses can be perfectly balanced has no business writing a book about game design, imo.

Fair enough, I’m happy to take your word for that.

Well it doesn’t have to be a “strictly” dominant strategy. To me a meta means a strategy that is dominant in most situations, even if it’s only by a tiny amount, all other things being equal. The sort of thing where if two imaginary perfectly matched players existed, the one using the meta gear would reliably win, even if only just.

If you have a game where there is such a clear “meta” that everyone is doing the same thing and people who aren’t lose dramatically every time… that my friend is a game with design problems.

There’s no need to defend it. Its just a fact, the more complex a system becomes, the more variables can pop up you don’t expect. Until you get to the point where you cannot account for everything.

Case in point, since you’ve brought up the topic of 2d games. Look at the WR for Super Mario Bros. 4:55.46… the amount of tricks and frame perfect inputs needed to attain that was not on a single developer’s mind in 1984. They had no way of accounting for those things 36 years later.

With a game like Conan, you have to be very careful how you approach balance. Because like I said before, sometimes things become OP simply because the players are naive. Just like when I played SMB in 1986, I had no idea how to do a flagpole glitch. I may have done it a few times, but never understood the significance of it.

Stuff like this may happen in Conan too. 5 years from now people might be doing stuff that we didn’t think to do. Or that we have done but didn’t string together in something that attributed to be an advantage. Simply because we’re too naive.

Its like the Epic Weapon Quests in Everquest. The guides in 2001 are much different than in 2011, which are different even today. Either from changes in the game, or finding out newer or more efficient things.

The meta in a game can change decades after its last patch or update. Its crazy, but fascinating at the same time if you think about it.

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It was meant to be snarky, not condescending, but I guess there’s probably some overlap between the two.

Honestly, I’ve seen it used way too often as an excuse for crappy balance. Especially on these forums.

Strictly speaking, noughts and crosses is not balanced at all, but I get your gist. Even nearly perfect balance is nearly impossible to achieve. Balancing gets exponentially (or at least polynomially :wink:) harder with every new element you add to the game. So yeah, I agree with you on that.

I also agree with you that it’s worth pursuing even if you never achieve it, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. Most people don’t really want perfect balance. They just don’t want crappy balance. You get decent balance by striving for perfect balance and never getting there, but that’s not the real goal.

And this is where we get to players and their feedback. There have always been and always will be players with a knee-jerk reaction: “I’ve been relying on X and now it doesn’t work the same way as before, therefore the devs are stupid.” I hate it when people are short-sighted, selfish and disrespectful like that.

But lately we’ve had a very vocal minority on these forums that feel the urge to stomp on any sort of negative feedback. Their common refrain is to tell all these “whiny players” that if they don’t like the game, they should stop playing instead of complaining for three years. And they just can’t wait to make that point whenever they see an opportunity.

You can see how quickly this thread devolved from this:

to this:

And that sort of derailment gets on my nerves a hell of a lot more than any knee-jerk whining about balance.

So when you used an argument that “you can’t have balance and variety” to defend that, I felt like I should point out that no, that’s not quite right. You can have decent balance and variety. And you can have a discussion about balance without metaphorically defecating on a whole group of people.

It’s just that both those things are hard.

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Yep that’s what I’m saying too. Never ceases to amaze me how often people who seem to disagree turn out to be on the same page after digging a bit deeper.

And point taken about noughts and crosses, but it does go to show how hard it is to think of a game that is perfectly balanced! Obviously I can’t.

I don’t read these forums all that much so I guess I kinda blundered in without any of the backstory/baggage that some of you might have. I was just talking… objectively I guess, not referring to any past arguments on the forum or anything.

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What I’ve come to cherish and be amazed at is finding someone who is polite and reasonable. I tend to be more abrasive than I should be and I enjoy arguing way too much :smirk:

I would hazard a guess that chess and go are probably in that category. When it comes to video games, I don’t know of any perfectly balanced examples, but the original StarCraft was damn near.

And I tend to overreact. I sorta jumped down your throat there. The fact that I’ve seen most decent and polite people slowly fade away and stop engaging on the forums is certainly not an excuse, but I hope it’ll help you understand and forgive me :wink:

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Maybe everything could’ve been different if everyone had a game that runs well and improves with the “updates”, sometimes we need reminding of what actually causes most of the friction and frustration, too many years have been wasted messing about with balancing etc, the focus should’ve always been game performance. It’s such a great game too… when it works properly. The Great Conan himself would be wanting to smash their heads in if he could see their handling of the various issues, bugs and customer complaints. Just imagine… if someone else bought the rights to the Conan franchise many years ago, we could’ve been a strong understanding community.

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